HIGHLANDS, NJ - On Sunday, June 27, 2010 members of the Highlands, Atlantic Highlands, Sea Bright, Middletown Fire Departments, United States Coast Guard and the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s office met at the Twin lights’ Marina in Highlands for a kick-off meeting to discuss the possibilities of forming the first Marine Task Force in Monmouth County.

Chief David Parker invited all the neighboring communities with a marine unit to join this effort to ensure that when the call comes in for any assistance on the water, either water rescue or a fire on a vessel our units are all working with the same protocol. This meeting gave the members of all departments an opportunity to see marine units from each municipality, as well go on board to get a better understanding of each departments capabilities and equipment.

The Highlands Fire Department currently has a 26’ McKee Craft vessel that is designed for Fire/Rescue operations.  The vessel is equipped with a Yamaha 4 Stroke 250 HP outboard motor, removable dive/rescue door on the port side, marine radios, fire service radios, scene lighting, search and rescue lighting, night vision capabilities, a floatable stokes basket and backboard with lifting bridle, assortment of EMS and water rescue equipment, davit crane for use up to 500lbs as well as 400 GPM Fire Pump with a severe duty monitor, class-b foam, nozzles and appliances, 250 feet of hose, and portable extinguishing agents. The vessel is also currently being outfitted with a16 mile radar unit and side scan sonar for search and rescue operations.

fire_marine_17_in_service
Marine 17 in Service

Chief Parker said the Atlantic Highlands, Middletown, and Sea Bright marine vessels have the same or similar capabilities. As a group we can coordinate training, develop response plans, and prepare the marine units to respond to water borne emergencies more efficiently and effectively. Overall response times will be reduced and resources will be coordinated to protect the lives and property in the communities and the region. “Working together will make a significant difference in the lives of the people in which we serve”.

Henry Stryker of the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office stated that he felt the meeting was “very informative and all involved have a common goal”. A Marine Task Force could be developed here along the Bayshore, and possibly in other areas of Monmouth County as well.  Fire Marshal Stryker stated “You have my support and if there is anything the Fire Marshal’s can do to assist you please let us know”

Marine-85 in Atlantic Highlands is docked at the Municipal Harbor, Marine-31-2 in Middletown is docked at the NJ State Marina in Leonardo, Marine-43 in Sea Bright is docked at the NJ State Police Marine Bureau and Marine-17 in Highlands is docked at the Twilights Marina. All the marine units anticipate that they will remain in water through November-December, weather permitting.